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Chapter 1: Dummy In The Dumbwaiter

"one of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood"

-Lucius Annaeus Seneca

"Come on, nothing bad is going to happen.” Andrew assured as he pulled me closer to the church, along with the others. I shone my flashlight on the church as it was too dark to see without light. Everyone had been staring at it with fascination and concern, but mostly fear. There’s an old myth that this church is haunted and everyone who has associated themselves with it has never come out. I’ve never believed such bullshit. Kids come and go from here all the time, but the place still gives me chills. Obviously, it looks old and worn down. It had some graffiti painted on the walls of the exterior. Something about the church felt beautiful to me. It looks beautiful in it’s loneliness and without the somber energy, it’s just like any other church.

I can’t help but wonder what the stained glass window designed looked like before they were shattered. There are still a few existing ones, I’m sure, but it probably looked so pretty before. It kind of looks like it could have been an old house at some point. A big, beautiful house.

My mother never really took us to church as little kids because she was always too busy. My older sister used to ask her if the churches were cages for God. She simply told us that there is no wall that could contain him and that he is everywhere.

I’ve never really understood religion, though. I can’t really say that this church brings back memories, but it pulls at your thoughts quite a bit.

Andrew continued to pull me inside. Noah, Laura, Brooke, Jacob, Damien, and Kade followed. I shot Noah a scared glance. He pushed one of his spiral curls from his brown eyes before giving me a thumbs up. I smiled, rolling my eyes at the intended awkwardness.

As we stepped into the wide-open doors, I was suddenly hit with an intense feeling of the frigid air, as were my friends. I shivered a bit, but we stepped further inside.

I stepped over to the filthy concrete wall and pressed my knuckle to it. I immediately retracted my hand as I felt the intense coolness of the walls.

Some of the kids woahed in shock. Naturally, Noah stepped over to the graffiti, which is actually a lot better than I expected it to be.

I looked around. The sight of the rows of benches alongside the wedding aisle was a bit off putting. I can’t help but imagine who sat there - who got married here.

I slowly walked down the aisle as I stared at the ceiling.

The church smells strongly of chlorine and cat feces. I wouldn’t be surprised if stray cats come here often, but where does the chlorine come from?

“Dylan.” Noah whispered. I jumped at the sound of his voice in my ear. I turned to him immediately before punching him in his arm. “You scared me, asshole.” I retorted. Noah laughed a bit before grabbing my wrist. “Andrew wants to go upstairs and show us where that kid died.”

“Oh! Fun!” I replied in a sarcastically enthusiastic tone. He nodded as he smiled and then led the way.

“What did he die in?” I asked.

“A dumbwaiter.” Noah said.

I furrowed my eyebrows. Who puts a dumbwaiter in a church?

“So it was a house.” I said. Hopefully I’m right. I love being right.

“I’m not sure.” Noah placed a hand on my back as we neared the stairway, inviting me to go first. “Andrew knows more about it than I do.”

I smiled at the sound of his name. I’ve had a crush on Andrew for about four months, but he’s pretty oblivious. Noah is the only one who knows.

He followed me up the stairs. My friends all looked at me as I came up.

I immediately noticed that the upstairs area still looked like a house. Maybe the owners lived here. The floor was hardwood, the chandelier was shattered and the doors on the rooms had been removed. When stepping into places like this, I always think about what it had looked like before - who lived in here and what it was like. The dumbwaiter was located next to the stairway. That’s where everyone was standing.

“You want to go in there, Lynn?” Jacob asked, pointing the dumbwaiter. I shook my head.

“A little boy named George Cunningham died in there. He was a troublemaker and he would play in there all the time. He was believed to have had a seizure and suffocated to death. That’s the only logical explanation. If it was due to a seizure, then it was probably his first..” Andrew explained. “Talk about bad timing.”

Some of the others smiled and laughed, but I couldn’t help but imagine the hell that the kid went through. Did people even know the science if seizures back then?

“We all voted that you should be the one to go in.” Andrew added.

I furrowed my eyebrows as I scoffed. “Why?”

“You’re the bravest.” He wrapped an arm around my shoulder as he handed me his flashlight, offering a trade. “Use my flashlight. It’s wider.”

I shot my eyes over to Noah. Should I really be doing this? This dumbwaiter is really old and not built to hold a human being.

“Come on.” Andrew pushed. “You’ll be a legend.”

I immediately smiled. I like when Andrew says stuff like that. If I do this then he’ll probably tell people. He’d be thinking of me. That’s something, right?

“Please?” He added, holding the flashlight closer to me as he lowered his head to my level.

I can faintly smell his peppermint breath being pulled into my nose as his hot breath hit my face. I shot my eyes up at everyone else, who had been staring at us, anticipating my answer.

They all looked like they really wanted for me to climb inside. All of them except for Noah. He’d been gentle nibbling at the chain on his cross necklace as he stared softly into my eyes. The others really wanted me to do it.

I let out a sigh of surrender as I took the flashlight from Andrew’s hand. I handed him mine and the other kids began cheering a bit.

“Be careful, stupid.” Noah said. I nodded, Andrew stepped to the dumbwaiter before grabbing the door from the bottom and pulling it open. The amount of dust that flew off of the opening was insane. Andrew pressed his sleeve to his mouth and his nose as he turned away. “Oh, God.” he retorted. Kade placed a hand on Andrew’s shoulder as he placed his sleeve to his mouth as well, along with the others and myself.

“Are you okay?” Kade asked. Andrew nodded as he looked to the dumbwaiter.

I took a deep breath. Hopefully I don’t have to stay in there long.

“What do you want me to do in there?” I asked, taking a step closer upon examining it. It’s dark, dusty, graffitied, filthy, and freezing cold.

“Just count to eleven.” Jacob suggested. Some of the others - including Andrew - nodded in agreement.

“Why eleven?” I asked. It’s a bit of a specific number.

“The kid was eleven when God yeeted his life in this dumbwaiter. You’re next, Lynn.”

I rolled my eyes. “Shut up.”

“Just hurry up.” Andrew said, shoving me closer towards the dumbwaiter.

I gulped. There was a voice in my head telling me that I shouldn’t do it because they want me to, but there was another voice in my head telling me the opposite. It was Andrew’s. I know that I’m probably stupid to think that he’ll notice me if I do this, but he would, right?

He’ll tell people about it. I’ll be in his head, even if I’m not around.

I guess it’s worth a shot. It’s just eleven seconds sitting in a dumbwaiter with my friends around.

I shook my head. “Okay. I can do this.” I said aloud as I began climbing inside. Andrew placed a hand on my back to help me.

I fit in almost perfectly. I’m an average height for my age and I’ve always been pretty thin.

I pulled my knees to my chest with my back against the wall on the back of the dumbwaiter.

“Start counting.” Laura said. “Slowly.” Brooke added.

“One . . . Two . . .” I began to count.

My heart was sent racing as Andrew slammed the door shut unexpectedly.

“Andrew!” I yelled. “Open the door!”

I tugged at the small handle on the bottom of the door and it didn’t budge. “Andrew! Noah! Let me out!” I begged. I put as much strength as I could into pulling it up, but I couldn’t.

“This isn’t fu-”

I was interrupted by my own coughing. The excessive amounts of dust quickly began itching my throat - my eyes. Even my lungs felt dry.

I heard the voices of the other and the banging on the doors.

“It’s stuck!” Andrew yelled.

“How the hell did it get stuck?!” Brooke asked.

The conversations began to overlap. I continued violently coughing as tears streamed down my face despite my eyelids being fused together with force. I reached to my right to grab the flashlight to check if there was something visibly wrong. Something I can fix to open it. I used my thumb to press the “On” button, but it hadn’t been working. Andrew didn’t do this on purpose, did he?

I pressed my face into my sleeve as securely as I can. I continued to cough, unable to breath.

I kicked the dumbwaiter door violently and desperately, but it didn’t seem to work.

The yells outside grew louder and louder. I’m not sure what they were arguing about.

More tears streamed down my face as my eyes continued to burn. My lungs felt as if they were about to explode.

“Dylan!” I heard Noah yelling. “I’m trying my best to open it!”

I remained quiet and still. Knowing that it’s be too painful to try to respond.

I heard Kade ask “Who the hell is Dylan?”

A wave of relief came over me as I saw a beam of light break through. I looked up to see Noah pulling up the dumbwaiter door. He grabbed my arm and pulled me out as quickly as he could.

I began coughing again before I could inhale the almost-dustless air.

“What the fuck were you thinking?” Noah asked Andrew. He pulled me to his chest, patting me on the back to help me get past the coughing.

“We just thought it would be a fun joke. We didn’t know it would get jammed. Calm down.” Andrew defended.

“Your girlfriend is alive.”

“I still don’t know who Dylan is”

Damien and Kade both said at the same time.

“I told them it was harsh. I’m sorry.” Laura added.

After coughing out enough dust, I was able to speak.

“Andrew didn’t know that it would jam.” I defended. “He was just trying to be funny. Y’know?”

“Exactly. See? She gets it. Thank you.” Andrew said.

I nodded as I continued coughing, stepping closer to the stairway to get away from the dusty dumbwaiter.

“I’m taking you home.” Noah said. “Your parents are probably worried.”

“She’s fine, okay? You think too much, Noah.” Andrew retorted, Noah rolled his eyes.

“Okay, but who the hell is Dylan?” Kade asked yet another time.

“I am, stupid.” I answered. I thought he would’ve caught on by now, but Kade isn’t really the smartest person in the group.

“I thought your name was Lynn.” Jacob said.

I ignored him as I rubbed my eyes. It’s a bit difficult to keep them open.

“Come on.” Noah grabbed my arm. “We’ll see you guys at school.”

“Bye, guys.” I added. They all said it back.

Noah kept a grip on my arms to keep me from falling down the stairs.

“Are your parents home?” He asked.

“They think I’m spending the night at Sierra’s, so . . .” I exaggerated the “so”, hoping he would get the message.

“You want to watch horror movies at my house all night?”

I smiled and answered with a nod as we stepped out the front door. The warmth and the clean air outside is refreshing. I inhaled the fresh air.

“We can watch The Grudge again!” I exclaimed. I always forget about that movie. I love that movie.

“I have the second and third one now.” Noah said, wrapping an arm around me as we neared the bike path that lead us here.

“Ethan from My Babysitter’s A Vampire plays in those ones, right?” I asked, anticipating a “yes”

Noah laughed. “Yeah, you dork.”

“I’m not a dork.” I lied in a playfully offended tone.

Noah nodded without saying a word.

Our conversation fell quiet for a second before he changed the subject.

“Can I ask you something?” He said.


“Why do you like him?”

I furrowed my eyebrows, shrugging. “I don’t know? He’s just really cute and sweet and nice to me.”

“He just trapped you in an unstable hundred-year-old food elevator” Noah argued.

“It was an accident!” I defended. “It’s not Andrew’s fault that the door got jammed.”

“Whatever, Dylan. He shouldn’t have closed it in the first place.”

I - as always- ignored Noah. Noah’s my best friend and he has been since fourth grade, but he hates all of my crushes. I guess he’s just trying to have my back. I appreciate him for that.

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